The Grand Annual is an Australian Thoroughbred steeplechase for horses run at Warrnambool, Victoria during its annual May Racing Carnival. The distance is officially listed as about 5500 metres because many sections of the are run in open paddocks with little or no fences. The race is the longest horse race run in Australia on a public course. There are 33 obstacles, more than any other steeplechase in the world.
Horse run clockwise and counter-clockwise at various points of the race and features a section in open paddocks. When re-entering the racetrack itself horses turn left on the first lap and right on the second. This has created problems on many occasions when horses have tried to veer left rather than right second time around.
Knowledge of the course and stamina are vital to the chances of horse and rider. With the Great Eastern Steeplechase and VRC Grand National it is considered to be one of the top three Australian steeplechase races.
The Grand Annual was first run in 1872. It was known as the Warrnambool Handicap Steeple until 1877, the Grand National Steeple from 1878 until 1881, the Warrnambool Handicap Steeple again until 1894, and the Grand Annual Steeple since 1895.
The 2009 event was the 132nd running (the race was not held between 1942 and 1946 and was abandoned in 1971). The winner is notable for not having raced for two years and two days prior to contesting this event.
The race record is held by Hoki (1996) at 6min 38.4 sec.
- Bargain buy wins gruelling Grand Annual
- Huxley, Dennis (2007). Miller's Guide 2007/08. Millers's Guide PL. http://www.millersguide.com.au/index.asp.